Is Spirituality a Byproduct of Evolution?
Homo sapiens evolved to be socially intelligent. Over millions of years, perhaps more, the primate brain evolved special machinery to allow us to think socially, to build abstract concepts of each other’s minds and to react emotionally to each other in a way that more or less maintains the social web. In one theory that is gaining greater acceptance, the social machinery in the human brain is the direct cause of spirituality. Spirituality is the human brain doing exactly what it is exquisitely well evolved to do. It is the functioning of our social intelligence.
If spiders could ever become super intelligent, they might see the world through the metaphor of a web. They might talk about sticky strands of thought. They might envision a universe pulled out of a spinneret. They might judge beauty by radial symmetry. Looking at the moon, they might see a web-in-the-moon instead of a man-in-the-moon. The natural talent of humans is to spin metaphors of minds and intentions, and that is how we evaluate almost everything around us. We understand and react to the world through our social capability. It defines us more than any other trait. Even language is a refinement of social communication. We are truly Homo socialis.